Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tomorrow Hovers, Like a Dark and Stormy Night

Tomorrow I begin NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as "create an unreasonable goal and try not to kill anyone in the process month". The target is over 1,600 words per day, to complete a draft of my novel by the end of November.

You may not hear much from me during this time.

Or, what you may hear could be terse. Or worse.

Apologies in advance for anyone who gets ignored or yelled at. I'll be better in December.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Caffiene Fueled View of the Debate

I woke up this morning to the ugly realization that I forgot to buy coffee yesterday. In my world, this is a bad, bad thing.

Luckily, I quickly remembered that I'd purchased a jar of instant coffee a few weeks before, for just such an emergency. But my relief was short lived.

Perhaps I shouldn't have chosen the store brand. Maybe Folgers in my cup would have tasted a bit more like actual coffee. Or that instant java pioneer, Nescafe.

But I didn't, and it was fairly horrible. It did the job of waking me up, with none of the pleasure.

So while taking Charlie out for his morning constitutional, we stopped by the corner convenience store cum Dunkin' Donuts counter. There we picked up a bag of French Vanilla coffee for $8.99. I'd deliberately left my wallet at home and carried a $10 bill so that I wouldn't be too tempted by things deep fried and sugar crusted. But the pumpkin muffin looked delicious.

And it wasn't a donut, after all.

But the coffee was $8.99, and the muffin was $1.49. Math doesn't lie, so it didn't come home with me.

Charlie and I headed back out the door, feeling somewhat virtuous for not buying a donut, which would actually have fit within the budget. But we were also annoyed. Charlie, because they didn't give him a Munchkin like they do at the drive through. Me, because of the overall injustice.

Once outside, I looked at the bag. Turns out it actually weighs a full pound, unlike what you find in most grocery stores. That made me feel better for about 20 seconds, but then I thought about it some more. The reality is what it is: I paid $9.00 for a pound of coffee. And not yuppie high brow coffee, or granola crunchy organic coffee, or socially conscious fare trade coffee. We are talking donut shop coffee.

Sure it's delicious to a plebeian palate like mine. But it's not exactly top shelf, despite the price.

Which brought me straight around to last night's presidential debate, with it's bickering and phony smiles and contradictions, all centering (theoretically) around foreign policy. I wanted to blame them for my first world problem. I wanted them to care about real people who just want to have a reasonably priced cup of coffee in the morning that doesn't taste like caca.

A few hours later I'm here trying to view it with a bit more objectivity. It's easier now that I'm fueled by a cup of tasty, non-instant, vanilla-scented, black-tinted, liquid gold. My caffeinated brain recognizes the ridiculous nature of my complaint, particularly when contrasted against the issues that rage in the world all around us. But I think that what I experienced is also universally true.

What most of us want is simple peace. No matter what economic position we hold within this society of riches, we yearn for having our simple desires satisfied without worries being attached to each satisfaction. We want to be able to fill up our coffee pots and our gas tanks and our bellies without worrying. We want dystopian novels and apocalyptic movies to not feel so inevitable. We want international strife to be clear cut enough to know when we should be in or out.

We want to wake up and drink a cup of real coffee and face the day without fear.

I feel sorry for both candidates. Neither one can give us what we want.

Time for another cup of Joe.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I want to wonder at dust motes

While taking Charlie the Wonder Dog for his morning walk yesterday, a little girl passed by with her mom and big brother. She was probably about 4 years old. They were making slow progress, because the girl kept stopping to marvel over one thing or another. They reached a collection of stuff blown down from the branches of a large tree on a recent windy night, and the pace slowed even further. Her little voice called out "Look at this stick!" and then "Look at this one!" and "Here's a bigger stick!"

You could hear the joy in her voice as she encountered each new find. Every stick was a treasure freshly discovered.  Each one brought the same enthusiasm, as if it were the first of it's kind.

It made me think about the lack of a sense of wonder in older people (like me).

I've often heard the idea that we somehow lose the capacity for wonder, as if some facility of imagination is lost as part of the developmental process. But in thinking about the awe-filled little girl, I wondered if the opposite might be true.

Maybe the problem isn't in what is lost, but in what is added on.

For us tall people, our worlds are cluttered with details. Our brains bear the specifics of jobs and children, politics and marriage, diets and friendship. We worry about finances and plan vacations. We talk about the neighbors and the weather and the fear of mosquitoes.

Once we grow up, our scope of attention is wide. The taller we get the greater the number of things we pay attention to.

The world of a young child is insular. They aren't distracted by the millions of concerns cluttering the heads of grown ups. Their limited area of focus allows an intensity of observation and enthusiasm that older people are too scattered to attain.

Yesterday's sermon echoed my ponderings from earlier in the day. The priest spoke of her need to "grow down"; to assume the simple faith of a child in order to let go of financial concerns and other worries.

I like that idea: of growing down.

I wonder if my ability to feel amazement and beauty could be similarly boosted through the action of a conscious decision. Could I choose to narrow my focus selectively, so that I can appreciate the majesty and mystery that spin in the dust motes around us?

I'd like to think the answer is yes. I'd also like to know the answer of how.